Annie catches my sudden change of expression and raises an eyebrow.

"Are you okay?" she asks with an uneasy laugh.

"I don't know . . .," I reply slowly, still holding her hand in mine. "I guess I am just wondering if you will slap me afterwards."

"Afterwards . . . after what, exactly?"

I hold Annie's gaze, taking her other hand in mine as I pull her closer. Before I have time to rethink anything and back out, I lean down, closing my eyes as I press my lips to hers. It is a tight-lipped kiss. A mere peck really. When I pull away and open my eyes, I can see Annie is stunned. I press my lips together, straightening to my full height while I wait for Annie to speak. When she does speak, her gorgeous smile spreads across her face.

"Do that again," she breathes, resting her palms on my chest. "You need to do that again."

I chuckle in relief and place my hands on her hips, leaning down to touch her lips again. This time, I do more than peck her lips. The crowd roars, probably as someone scores a goal. I am scoring a goal of my own right now. I keep my hands on Annie's hips, afraid to move them anywhere else and make her uncomfortable. My hands may not be moving, but Annie's are exploring. She is rubbing my chest up and down, lingering when she finds my abs. I part her lips, letting my tongue explore her mouth. Annie squeaks softly, making me chuckle and pull away.

"Why'd you stop?" Annie pouts, bouncing on her feet.

"Because you made that friggin' cute noise," I reply, bringing my arms around her shoulders. "You're adorable, Annie . . . Farrah."

I whisper her real name and I feel her chest swell in a sigh.

She smiles, "I would not mind if you were to call me Farrah," she whispers as her arms find their way to my neck. "I have never heard is said like that before."

"Like what?" I ask, resting my forehead against hers as I close my eyes.

"With adoration," she replies; I can hear the smile in her voice. "With . . . love."

I sigh and peck Annie's lips slowly. I pull away to look at her and chuckle. Annie is grinning, bouncing on her feet as I pull her yet closer.

"We should go back before your dad notices we're gone," I say, smiling. "Thanks for not slapping me."

"What if I had slapped you," Annie asks, resting her hand on my cheek.

"It would have been worth it," I whisper, leaning into her palm. "It would have been . . . really worth it."

***

The Panthers won 10-5. One more game to win, and then we will be playing the championships. The team is not the only winner tonight. I scored a kiss with Annie. As we ride on the bus back to campus, Annie is sitting close to my side, resting against my shoulder. Somehow, Jacks knows that he would be an annoyance, and is sitting nearer the back with Charlie and Jackson. Coach notices the way Annie is sitting with me, and smiles. I smile back, tightening my arm around her shoulders. Having the approval of a girl's father beforehand definitely boosts my confidence a bit. It saves me the trouble of meeting him later. Annie's eyes are closed; she must be tired from the long ride to the game and then the two hours of jumping and shouting. My phone vibrates in my bag, next to my leg, and I reach inside for it. The screen lights up with a new message from my sister.

Sabrina: I hope the game went well. Shoot me a text or give me a call when you get a chance. I have a question for you about Sunday.

Not wanting to move my arm from Annie's shoulders, I text back with one hand.

Me: Game went well. We won! If we win the next game, we are in the championships! LOL! What's up, Sis?

Sabrina: Karissa told me that you guys are bringing Annie here tomorrow, and I was wondering if she was staying through Sunday. I would love her to join us for church.

Me: Yeah, she's staying through Sunday . . . Sis, don't tell anyone yet but . . . I got some advice from our brother and he told me to go for it . . . I kissed Annie at the game.

Sabrina: You kissed Annie!? Eric! That is so great! Please tell me she did not shove you away.

Me: She DID NOT shove me away. In fact, when I pulled away after the first kiss, she told me I NEEDED to do it again. So I did.

Sabrina: Oh Eric! You have no idea how happy I am to hear that! (does happy dance) I have missed the old you, little bro. You seemed to get lost over the last few years. I told you that you would meet a girl who would prove what you thought you felt for Karissa was not real.

Me: You did, and I am glad you were always there. Thanks for being my sister . . . Na-Na!

Sabrina: (gasps) You had better not call me that . . . Only Gil can call me that name.

Me: I am just teasing. I happened to overhear him call you that one day and I like bugging you.

Me: I am gonna go. Annie is asleep next to me and we are nearly back to campus. I will see you tomorrow. Love you, sis!

Sabrina: I love you too, Eric. See you soon!

I put my phone back into my bag before looking down at Annie. I chuckle when I see her sleepy smile. I lean down and kiss her forehead. This girl is so beautiful.

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